Any ‘new’ technology has to reduce complexity and workload for military and aviation operators.
With the buzz around the release of Android Wear and the impending arrival of the “iWatch”, it looks as if wearable devices are going to meet the predictions of being the next widely adopted form of consumer technology – Gartner for one has predicted that the market will be worth $10 billion by just 2016.
But where does the value lie in wearable technology for the Aerospace & Defense (A&D) industry?
I see three key requirements for this technology to become workable:
1. Safety ‘at the asset’
In A&D, the safety of workers or troops is always paramount. In a practical sense, wearable technology can significantly enhance safety in what can often be complex situations, as staff are able to have both hands free, thereby providing a much more agile response to a changing tactical situation.
2. Usability is key
But whilst having the information ‘at the asset’ could prove extremely valuable, it is important to remember that any wearable technology must not hinder the user physically in any way. A battlefield is certainly not an easy place to be, and robustness, reliability and ease of use are all key factors to help ensure user safety – so wearables on the market today may be an interesting concept, particularly for support domains in A&D, but I don’t think they’re quite up to the challenge in more hostile environments just yet!
3. Improving MRO
However, such technology is beginning to make waves in the civil aviation industry. International carrier Japan Airlines has already shown the practical applications of wearables through its use of Google Glass in their maintenance process. The glasses are worn by engineers working around the plane on the tarmac. The m
aintenance specialists are then able to feed any issues they see back to the engineer on the ground, meaning that maintenance specialists are able to assess far more aircraft than they would be able to if they were on site.
And low-cost airlines are embracing this technology too. European carrier EasyJet is also looking at deploying new technology to enable a remote engineering team to see exactly what a pilot or engineer is seeing using virtual reality glasses.
But how will this develop?
The key to the use of any advanced technology is the importance of creating a sustained behavior. Research has shown that consumers can get bored with wearable technology within months of ownership.
Over the next few years wearable technology will reinvent the working day across many different industries – from nurses to office workers to deep sea oil rig engineers – but the key to success, particularly in A&D, is to ensure the technology focuses on the end users’ requirements.
IFS Applications is already running on a Samsung Gear 2 smart watch as a proof-of-concept with IFS Labs, and it demonstrates the ability to engage with content from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems, providing important notifications in real-time.
- Also read Martin Gunnarsson, Director – Research & Strategy’s, recent blog post on how wearable technology can deliver ‘expertise on-demand’ in MRO
Any ‘new’ technology has to reduce complexity and workload for military and aviation operators, and the most important thing is to ensure that wearables will deliver on this – perhaps we will see A&D embrace this revolutionary technology, but it will have to deliver on business needs as opposed to simply being the latest technology ‘in fashion’.
To learn more about IFS’s view on the role of innovative technology in MRO, why not download our free whitepaper “Why Aerospace & Defense Needs Mobile MRO”?